Atlanta Falcons & Houston Texans: On Top and Under Pressure
The Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Texans are both 10-1 and considered the two best teams in the league based on their records, but both teams have struggled to stay at the top lately; not to mention neither team is getting the respect they deserve for having the best records in football.
They may be in different conferences but the Falcons and Texans are in similar situations. Both teams have won extremely close games in the last two weeks. Each team also has a two-loss team nipping at their heels as well. The San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1) are waiting for Atlanta to slip up, while the Baltimore Ravens (9-2) nip at the heels of the Texans.
Atlanta has been bitten by the turnover bug lately, something completely uncharacteristic of a Mike Smith coached team. Turnovers forced the Falcons into tough match against a struggling Arizona Cardinals team. Atlanta barely made it out of Raymond James stadium alive versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, thanks to a couple of shanked field goals by their kicker. Things are not going to get any easier either as the Falcons find themselves banged up in the secondary and a Thursday night rematch against their rivals, the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons need to prove to themselves they can beat the Saints at home. New Orleans is shaping out to be a serious playoff contender despite a season full of scandal. Should Drew Brees and the boys, it is quite possible these two teams could meet for a third time in the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Texans have needed overtime to win their last two games versus teams who have all but fallen apart. Houston needed extra time to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, in a game that surprisingly turned out to be a shootout. They followed this up on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions, going to overtime again and winning, thanks to a controversial call by the referees. While Matt Schaub and Arian Foster have put up impressive numbers in their last 10 quarters of football, the Texans can ill afford to use this strategy every game and expect to win. Like Atlanta, Houston also has tough games coming up versus the New England Patriots and two games against the Chuck Pagano-inspired Indianapolis Colts.
One thing for sure, should both teams make it to the Super Bowl, which they are capable of, it won’t be because they beat up on everybody but because they were able to survive the madness that is the NFL.